If you’ve ever ridden the Subway in New York City, you know that some trains in the morning can be incredibly crowded during rush hour. It’s not out of the ordinary to ask strangers to “move a bit” or give you some more space when it’s packed. But, one woman was the victim of assault after asking a passenger to give her more space.
Sam Saia was taking the N train into Manhattan when she was seated next to a man who was manspreading so much, he was invading her car seat and pushing her into the Subway wall. She reportedly politely asked the man to give her some more space, as she was being pressed against the car’s wall, but he responded rather vulgarly. According to a Facebook post, she said:
He proceeded to press me against the wall and man spread me excessively. When I asked him to give me room, he yelled ‘B***h, you ain’t nothing! I’ve raped white b*****s like you, f*****g c**t! You ain’t nothing, you f*****g b***h!”
Saia said she “put her headphones on” to drown out his screaming, but he was so angry, he stood up and punched Saia in the face so hard, her head slammed against the Subway wall and bounced off. She was left with a bloody lip and some bruising.
Stranger Victor Conde stepped in the very moment he saw the incident happen and told the attacker to get off the train. Witnesses caught the incident on camera.
The unfortunate part of the story is the response that Saia received from the NYPD. The victim posted online that she contacted the 17th Precinct and reported the incident, but they had forwarded her to the transit cops in Brooklyn. When she tried to meet with them, they referred her to a form she had to file at an NYPD Precint–basically, no one would help her. Saia said she was “nervous” riding the train in case she ended up running into the man again. She wanted to know that he would be caught and not have to be scared to take the train to work.
She ended up posting her story on social media, hoping it would bring some attention to the matter–including the information and runaround the police department had given her. After her story went viral, the chief of the NYPD Transit Authority contacted her directly. Thanks to the video a witness took, the NYPD had arrested 56-year-old Derek Smith, Saia’s attacker. He had apparently had prior arrests, as well.
It just goes to show you how powerful citizen journalism and social media can truly be.